Thursday, November 29, 2018

On the Mount Christians #4: Matthew 6 Considerations of Kingdom Citizens

On The Mount Christians Lesson 3
Matthew 6 Considerations of Kingdom Citizens

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 Jesus now turns from the character of the child of God to the mind set which should flow from that character.  He begins to instruct them in the attitudes they should have in the areas of giving, prayer, forgiveness, fasting, priorities, influences, money and worry.   All these should be controlled by the person I am because of my relationship with Jesus the King.

Toward Giving   Matthew 6:1-4

Matthew 6:1-4  Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

There are two types of giving in this passage what are they?
Alms before men.  A gift or giver that is visible and has its effect on men.  Alms in secret.  A gift or giver that is seen only of God.

There are two types of reward mentioned in this passage about giving.  What two kinds of rewards are there?
Reward of men which is their praise toward you and God’s reward.

What does Jesus mean when he says of those who give with an eye toward men, “They have their reward?”  What is their reward?
The praise of men only.

Matthew 6:5-8 Toward Prayer

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.   But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 

There are also two types of prayer, what are they?
Prayer that is seen of men and prayer that is in secret.

Which type of prayer does God hear and respond to?
The prayer in secret?

How are we to understand Jesus’ warning about “vain repetitions?”  Do we ever pray in this manner?

A vain repetition is one that is repeated over and over and over with the same words and expression.  It is vain, meaning it is empty and worthless.   If our prayers do not really address God, do not change or vary as real conversation would then they also are merely vain repetitions.

Matthew 6:9-13 The Model Prayer

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 

This prayer is a model or framework upon which we should build our own personal prayer life.  It is very simple in construction, as any framework should be.  It leaves room for us to raise up our own places of prayer where we meet with God.  Lets look at the rooms in this house of prayer.

Relation: To the Father from His Child 

 Our Father which art in heaven

     Look at the beginning of the prayer.  What is the first thing you notice, who is the prayer addressed to? 

The prayer is to Our Father in Heaven.  Jesus used a child's word for father, equivalent to our "daddy" it is the same word used in Romans 8:15 "Abba, Father". 

What does this tell us about the relationship of those who pray?  They must be children of God, they must be saved.  It also tells us that in prayer we are to understand God as our Father, a very personal, intimate relationship.

How do you think of God when you approach Him in Prayer?
Do your prayers reflect that understanding or do they sound somewhat distant or routine? 

Would you talk to your earthly father in the same way you pray to your Heavenly Father? 
Same words, same tone, same order, same beginning same ending etc.

What are some ways in which my prayers should change and deepen along with my understanding of God as my Father? 
I would spend more, not less time in prayer.  I would grow in respect for Him as I realize how much He loves me and blesses me.  I would talk to him more readily, sooner, quicker, rather than wait until I have to.

Adoration: Praise before Petition 

 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

     The next phrase brings us another portion of the platform upon which to build, yet it is often the most undeveloped part of modern prayer.

     Jesus told them to say, "Hallowed be Thy name."  What does this mean?  Is it just a phrase which we repeat in order to make sure our prayer is going to be heard?  No, it is part of the model upon which our own prayers are to be erected. 

     The word "Hallowed" is the verb form of the word holy.  In the case of the model prayer is an acknowledgment of the holiness, the sanctity of God's name and thereby God Himself.  The phrase in this abbreviated model is a place for worship and praise to the One we are praying to.

     In our real prayers this room is often absent or very empty.  We are so eager or programmed to ask things from God in prayer that we neglect time spent with God in prayer.   To praise God during our prayer is to honor Him, commune with Him, and render to Him what is due as the Creator of the Universe and the only one who can intervene in time and space to help us.

     We should be praying with a deep reverence and appreciation for the High and Holy one we approach in prayer.  We see this same attitude in Psalms 100 which describes our approach to God.

Psalm 100:1-5  (A Psalm of praise.) Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Submission: to God's Rule and Will

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven

     The next part of the model prayer deals with submission.  Jesus constructed it in two sections, God's Kingdom and God's Will.

     "Thy kingdom come" had a very real and obvious meaning to the disciples of Jesus.  The prophets had promised a kingdom of God ruled by the Messiah.  God's kingdom was first and foremost that promised kingdom.  It was not established yet or Jesus would not have told them to pray for it to come.  It was however, on it's way and would someday be established over all the earth with Jesus Christ as King.  This petition would fill the Roman dominated Israelite with hope as he endured the rule of another.

     This is a petition for both a future reality and a present attitude.  When I pray is there a place in my prayer for the return of Jesus to establish his kingdom?  Is there an attitude of hope which permeates my prayer because I look for this to happen?  Do I realize that no matter how difficult it may be now, under the rule of Satan in this world, that someday Jesus will reign and all will be right? 

     Next Jesus told the disciples to pray, "Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven."  In heaven is the qualifying statement for describing how God's will was to be done.  In heaven God's will is carried out instantaneously by uncountable armies of angels. 

Angels aren't earthly creatures so who is to do God's will here? 
We are.  His Servants.

     If I add this room to my prayers, how will it change my prayers?  How will it change my life? 
To honestly and completely yield myself to God's will is to remove any right of ownership to myself, my future or any possession.  To pray it, is to make my words a vow of personal servitude in the ministry of God.  Every prayer then becomes a surrender of my own desires to God's desires for me.

Recognition: Of  God's Power to Live

Give us this day our daily bread.

     The next phrase asks God for daily bread.  Certainly this looks to our food which ultimately comes from God, but within the framework of this model prayer it goes much further.  

     Bread was the "staff of life."  It was the most important part of the middle eastern diet.  Meat, fresh vegetable and fruit were luxuries at most tables, but bread meant they would not starve.  "Daily bread" is that bread which is necessary to sustain our lives today.  It means we stand upon the promises of God to care for his children and provide for their needs.  It does not presume upon tomorrow except to believe that God will as always provide for us once we are there.  The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, "The Greek is concise and graphic,  'Keep giving to us our daily allotment'."

     This room in the building of my prayer may be constructed quite differently than the simple idea of "daily bread."    This room must not be thought of as license to ask for the luxuries of life, it is an affirmation of God's promise for the necessities of life.  It is praying from faith not want. It is recognizing that it is God who must supply life itself to me.
Look at the following verses
De 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

What was the lesson of the manna to the Israelites? 
It showed God's provision yet it also showed the people's need of faith.  God only would provide enough for the day.  They had to trust him for tomorrow's provision.

What is the lesson of the manna to us? 
The daily bread is an object lesson in God's care for us.  The greatest thing isn't the bread but learning to trust God.  Notice what Moses said in Deut 8:3.

Reconciliation: Repentance toward God and Forgiveness of Others

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

     Now Jesus instructs that each prayer should have a place in which forgiveness is asked from God and because of that forgiveness we also forgive those who have sinned against us.

Very few prayers omit asking for forgiveness but very few include granting it. 

Humiliation: a Cry for Deliverance 

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
     The final phrase which the disciples were instructed to pray dealt with temptation and deliverance from that temptation.  The word temptation can mean both temptation to sin and a test.  Indeed a temptation to sin is a test of a moral kind.  Jesus is not however saying that God tempts man to sin. 

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

     James makes it very plain that God does not tempt in the way Satan tempts.  The model prayer expresses an attitude, it began in petitioning God for His kingdom to come and proceeds with our submission to his will.  Now within that submission to whatever God brings into our life, we turn to the One into whose hand our entire being has been given and ask Him to remember that we are human and dependent upon Him.  Lord, Keep us from temptation for we are weak, and easily swayed.  This room in the prayer is one of humility which is entered from the previous room of submission to God.

     Without humility my prayer is only a sham.  I must recognize that I am incapable of anything unless God intervenes to keep me from evil.  Humility is not weakness, it fact true humility is the key to real strength.  For God's strength is not given to the proud but only to the lowly.  Real strength is mine only when I realize how weak I really am.

Return to Praise

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Jesus finishes his prayer with a return to praise for the One who hears our prayer.  This reemphasizes the importance of talking to God and fully realizing who He is. With each succeeding prayer my mouth should be filled with more and more praise for my God, my Creator, my Father.

Matthew 6:14-15 Toward Forgiveness

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now Jesus instructs that we who have been forgiven by God for our sing agains Him must also grant forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.

Matthew 18:23-35  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took [him] by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

What is the lesson to be learned from this parable? 
We who have been forgiven a debt against God which we could never repay, should be grateful and willing to forgive those who have sinned against us.  To not do so is to mock and count as nothing the much greater forgiveness we have received.

Summary: The forgiveness of our unbelief against God, is not conditional upon anything except the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and my accepting His death on my behalf.  Continued forgiveness from God, after I have experienced the new birth, may be hindered if I cannot forgive others.  It is absurd to harbor feelings of resentment and bitterness toward another when God, who has every right to send me to hell for all eternity, willingly forgave me and made me his child.   What offense against me could be  greater than my rebellion against God which caused His own Son to die on the cross??

Matthew 6:16-18 Toward Fasting

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

What is a fast?   What is its purpose?
Essentially, it is  not eating, but it’s spiritual purpose is a time of utter consecration to God.

Why was Jesus concerned about it?
It was being done for the wrong reason, to gain the praise of men.

How is this teaching connected to what has proceded it?
Like prayer and giving this was a spiritual work but prone to abuse and wrong motivation.

Isaiah 58:3-7  Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.  Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?  Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

What is the lesson about fasting that God gave to Isaiah for Israel ?
That hypocritical fasting would not be tolerated by God. Secondly, that fasting was an opportunity to serve God by forgiving and caring for others.

What is our application as NT believers from Isaiah 58?
Certainly that we should help others, but more that we should understand that God looks upon the heart of any believer and not just upon the outward acts they do.  It is the same lesson Jesus taught in Matthew 6, hypocrisy versus sincerity, false worship versus true worship.


After Jesus shows the character of Kingdom Citizen in chapter 5, He begins to address those who citizens and give them guidelines for their service and worship. Though he specifically talks about giving, praying, forgiving and fasting, His great point is our heart in worshipping and serving our King.

It is the “inward man” that Jesus is trying to get us to consider. That all our actions must come from a sincere desire and honest motivation of a child of God, a born-again citizen of the coming Kingdom of Heaven. To that person the outward things don’t matter, for we know that God looks upon our heart.

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